Constitutional Law Center > Documents > Founding Fathers > Pennsylvania

PENNSYLVANIA

George Clymer
Pennsylvania

Image: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

I. EARLY LIFE

Clymer was orphaned in 1740, only a year after his birth in Philadelphia. A wealthy uncle reared and informally educated him. Clymer advanced from clerk to full-fledged partner in the uncle's mercantile firm, which became his upon the uncle's death. Clymer merged operations with the Merediths, a prominent business family, and cemented the relationship by marrying his senior partner's daughter, Elizabeth, in 1765.

Motivated at least partly by the impact on his business of British economic restrictions, Clymer adopted the Revolutionary cause and was one of the first to recommend independence. He attended patriotic meetings, served on the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, and in 1773 headed a committee that forced the resignation of Philadelphia tea consignees appointed by Britain under the Tea Act. In 1775-76 he acted as one of the first two Continental treasurers and personally underwrote the war by exchanging all his own specie for Continental currency.

II. CONTINENTAL CONGRESS & CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

In the Continental Congress (1776-77 and 1780-82), the quiet and unassuming Clymer rarely spoke in debate but rather made his mark in committee efforts, especially those pertaining to commerce, finance, and military affairs. During the War for Independence, he also served on a series of commissions that conducted important field investigations. In December 1776, when Congress fled from Philadelphia to Baltimore, he and George Walton and Robert Morris remained behind to carry on congressional business. Within a year, after their victory at the Battle of Brandywine (September 11, 1777), British troops advancing on Philadelphia detoured for the purpose of vandalizing Clymer's home in Chester County, about 25 miles outside the city. His wife and children hid nearby in the woods.

At the Constitutional Convention, Clymer rarely missed a meeting, spoke seldom but effectively, and played a modest role in shaping the final document.

III. GOVERNMENT OFFICES

After a brief retirement following his last term in the Continental Congress, Clymer was reelected for the years 1784-88 to the Pennsylvania legislature, where he had also served part-time in 1780-82 while still in Congress. As a state legislator, he advocated a bicameral legislature and reform of the penal code, and he opposed capital punishment.

Clymer served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the First Congress (1789-91) and as collector of excise taxes on alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania (1791-94). In 1795-96 he sat on a presidential commission that negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee and Creek Indians in Georgia.

During his retirement from politics, Clymer advanced various community projects, including the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He also served as the first president of the Philadelphia Bank.

He died in 1813 at age 73. His grave is in the Friends Meeting House Cemetery at Trenton, NJ.

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Thomas Fitzsimons
Pennsylvania
(No Portrait Available)

I. EARLY LIFE

Fitzsimons (FitzSimons; Fitzsimmons) was born in Ireland in 1741 and came to America in (approximately) 1760. He pursued a mercantile career in Philadelphia, married Catherine Meade, the daughter of a prominent local merchant, and went into business with one of his brothers-in-law. The firm of George Meade and Company soon became one of the leading commercial houses in the city and specialized in the West India trade.

II. REVOLUTIONARY WAR, CONTINENTAL CONGRESS & CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

When the Revolution erupted, Fitzsimons enthusiastically endorsed the Whig position. During the war, he commanded a company of militia (1776-77). He also sat on the Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, Council of Safety, and navy board. His firm provided supplies and "fire" ships to the military forces and, toward the end of the war, donated £ 5,000 to the Continental Army.

In 1782-83 Fitzsimons was as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He attended the Constitutional Convention but did not make any outstanding contributions. He was, however, a strong nationalist.

III. GOVERNMENT OFFICES & OTHER LEADERSHIP POSITIONS

In 1783, Fitzsimons became a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Censors and served as a legislator (1786-89). After the Constitutional Convention, Fitzsimons continued to demonstrate his nationalistic proclivities as a three-term U.S. Representative (1789-95). He allied himself closely with the program of Hamilton and the emerging Federalist Party. He advocated a protective tariff and the retirement of the national debt.

Although he spent the remainder of his life in private business, Fitzsimons retained an interest in public affairs. His views remained essentially Federalist. During the maritime difficulties in the late 1790s, he urged retaliation for British and French interference with American shipping. In 1810, again clashing with the Jeffersonians, he championed rechartering the First United States Bank.

Fitzsimons's prominence, however, stemmed from his business leadership. In 1781 he had been one of the founders of the Bank of North America. He also helped organize and held a directorship in the Insurance Company of North America and several times acted as president of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

His financial affairs took a disastrous turn in 1805. He later regained some of his affluence, but his reputation suffered.

Despite these troubles, Fitzsimons never ceased his philanthropy. He was an outstanding supporter of Philadelphia's St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church. He also strived to improve public education and served as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.

Fitzsimons died at Philadelphia in 1811. His tomb is in Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, in the graveyard at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church.

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image of benjamin franklin

Benjamin Franklin
Pennsylvania

Image: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

I. EARLY LIFE

Franklin was born in 1706 in Boston. He was the tenth son of a soap and candle maker. He received some formal education but was principally self-taught. After serving an apprenticeship to his father, he went to work for his half-brother James, a printer. In 1721 James founded the New England Courant, the fourth newspaper in the colonies. Benjamin contributed 14 essays to the Courant—his first published writings.

In 1723, because of dissension with his half-brother, Franklin moved to Philadelphia, where he obtained employment as a printer. He spent only a year there and then sailed to London for two years. Back in Philadelphia, he rose rapidly in the printing industry. He published The Pennsylvania Gazette (1730-48), but his most successful literary venture was the annual Poor Richard 's Almanac (1733-58). Its popularity in the colonies was second only to the Bible, and its fame eventually spread to Europe.

In 1730 Franklin had taken a common-law wife, Deborah Read, who was to bear him a son and daughter. (He also apparently had children out of wedlock with another woman.) By 1748 he had achieved financial independence and had gained recognition for his philanthropy and for the stimulus he provided to such civic causes as libraries, educational institutions, and hospitals. He also found time to pursue his interest in science, as well as to enter politics.

II. PUBLIC SERVICE

Early on . . .

Franklin served as clerk (1736-51) and member (1751-64) of the colonial legislature and as deputy postmaster of Philadelphia (1737-53) and deputy postmaster general of the colonies (1753-74). In addition, he represented Pennsylvania at the Albany Congress (1754) and called to unite the colonies during the French and Indian War. The congress adopted his "Plan of Union," but the colonial assemblies rejected it because it encroached on their powers.

Franklin in England

During the years 1757-62 and 1764-75, Franklin resided in England, originally in the capacity of agent for Pennsylvania and later for Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. During the earlier period, Franklin was a contented Englishman in outlook; he distrusted popular movements and saw little purpose in carrying principles to extremes. Until the issue of parliamentary taxation undermined the old alliances, he led the Quaker party attack on the Anglican proprietary party and its Presbyterian frontier allies. His purpose throughout the years at London, in fact, had been to convert the province from a proprietary to a royal colony by replacing the Penn family administration with royal authority.

However, from 1764-75, Franklin underwent a political metamorphosis. During the Stamp Act crisis, Franklin evolved from faction leader of a shattered provincial party to celebrated spokesman for American rights. Although as agent for Pennsylvania he opposed by every conceivable means the enactment of the bill in 1765, he did not at first realize the depth of colonial hostility. He regarded passage as unavoidable and preferred to submit to it while actually working for its repeal.

Franklin's nomination of a friend and political ally as stamp distributor for Pennsylvania, coupled with his apparent acceptance of the Stamp Act, armed his proprietary opponents with explosive issues. Franklin's reputation at home was endangered until reliable information was published demonstrating his unabated opposition to the act. Mob resentment threatened his family and new home in Philadelphia until his tradesmen supporters rallied. Subsequently, Franklin's defense of the American position in the House of Commons during the debates over the Stamp Act's repeal restored his prestige at home.

Back home in Philadelphia in the mid-1770s

Franklin returned to Philadelphia in May 1775 and immediately became a distinguished member of the Continental Congress. Thirteen months later, he served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence.

Franklin also served as postmaster general and took over the duties of president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention.

Diplomacy in Europe

Within a year and a half of his return from Europe, the aged statesman set sail once again, beginning a career as diplomat that would occupy most of his remaining years. As one of three commissioners in 1771-79, he directed the negotiations that led to treaties of commerce and alliance with France. While he was sole commissioner to France (1779-85), he and John Jay and John Adams negotiated the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the War for Independence.

Home again—1785-1790

Back in the United States, Franklin became president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania in 1785. At the Constitutional Convention, though he did not approve of many aspects of the finished document and was hampered by his age and ill-health, he missed few if any sessions, soothed passions, compromised disputes, and lent his prestige to the proceedings.

In his twilight years, Franklin worked on his Autobiography. Energetic nearly to the last, in 1787 he was elected as first president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, a cause to which he had committed himself as early as the 1730s. His final public act was signing a memorial to Congress recommending dissolution of the slavery system. In 1790, at the age of 84, Franklin passed away in Philadelphia and was laid to rest in Christ Church Burial Ground.

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Jared Ingersoll
Pennsylvania

Image: National Archives, Records of Exposition, Anniversary, and Memorial Commissions
(148-CP-130)

I. EARLY LIFE

The son of Jared Ingersoll, Sr., a British colonial official (and, later, prominent Loyalist), Ingersoll was born at New Haven, CT, in 1749. He received an excellent education and graduated from Yale in 1766. He then oversaw the financial affairs of his father, who had relocated from New Haven to Philadelphia. The youth later joined his father, took up the study of law, and won admittance to the Pennsylvania bar.

In the midst of the Revolutionary fervor, Ingersoll sailed to London and studied law at the Middle Temple. Completing his work in 1776, he made a two-year tour of the Continent, and, for some reason, shed his Loyalist sympathies.

Returning to Philadelphia and entering the legal profession, Ingersoll attended to the clients of one of the city's leading lawyers and a family friend, Joseph Reed, who was then occupied with the affairs of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. In 1781 Ingersoll married Elizabeth Pettit (Petit).

II. CONSTITUTIONAL CONGRESS & CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

Ingersoll entered politics by winning election to the Continental Congress (1780-81).

Although he attended all sessions of the Constitutional Convention, had long favored revising the Articles of Confederation, and was accustomed to debate, Ingersoll seldom spoke during the proceedings.

III. GOVERNMENT OFFICES & LEGAL PRACTICE

Ingersoll held a variety of public positions: member of the Philadelphia common council (1789); attorney general of Pennsylvania (1790-99 and 1811-17); Philadelphia city solicitor (1798-1801); U.S. District Attorney for Pennsylvania (1800-01); and presiding judge of the Philadelphia District Court (1821-22). He was the (unsuccessful) Federalist Vice-Presidential candidate in 1812.

While pursuing his public activities, Ingersoll attained distinction in his legal practice. For many years, he handled the affairs of Stephen Girard, one of the nation's leading businessmen. In 1791 Ingersoll began to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and took part in some memorable cases. Although he represented the losing side in both Chisholm v. Georgia (1792) and Hylton v. United States (1796), his arguments helped to clarify difficult constitutional issues. He also represented fellow-signer William Blount, a Senator, when he was threatened with impeachment in the late 1790s.

Ingersoll died at age 73. Survived by three children, he was buried in the cemetery of Philadelphia's First Presbyterian Church.

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Thomas Mifflin
Pennsylvania

Image: Independence National Historical Park

I. EARLY LIFE

The son of a rich merchant and local politician, Mifflin was born in Philadelphia in 1744. He studied at a Quaker school and then at the College of Philadelphia (later part of the University of Pennsylvania), from which he won a diploma at the age of 16.

Mifflin worked for four years in a Philadelphia counting house. In 1764 he visited Europe, and the next year he entered the mercantile business in Philadelphia with his brother. In 1767 he wed Sarah Morris.

In the Pennsylvania legislature (1772-76), Mifflin championed the colonial position against the Crown.

II. REVOLUTIONARY WAR, CONTINENTAL CONGRESS & CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

Mifflin attended the Continental Congress (1774-76). During this time, he helped to raise troops and won appointment as a major in the Continental Army, leading to his expulsion from the Quaker faith. In the summer of 1775 he first became an aide-de-camp to Washington and then Quartermaster General of the Continental Army. He became a colonel late in 1775, and in May 1776 a brigadier general. Preferring action to administration, he began to perform his quartermaster duties perfunctorily. Nevertheless, he participated directly in the war effort. He took part in the Battles of Long Island, Trenton, and Princeton. Furthermore, through his persuasive oratory, he apparently convinced many men not to leave military service.

In 1777 Mifflin attained the rank of major general but resigned because of criticism of his quartermaster activities. About the same time, he became involved in the cabal that advanced Gen. Horatio Gates to replace Washington (who later became a friend) in command of the Continental Army. In 1777-78 Mifflin sat on the Congressional Board of War. In the latter year, he briefly reentered the military, but continuing attacks on his earlier conduct soon led him to resign once more.

Mifflin returned immediately to politics. He sat in the state assembly (1778-79) and again in the Continental Congress (1782-84), from December 1783 to the following June as its president. In 1787 he was chosen to take part in the Constitutional Convention. He attended regularly, but he made no speeches and did not play a substantial role.

III. GOVERNMENT OFFICES

Mifflin continued in the legislature (1785-88 and 1799-1800); succeeded Franklin as president of the Supreme Executive Council (1788-90); chaired the constitutional convention (1789-90); and served as governor (1790-99), during which time he affiliated himself with the emerging Democratic-Republican Party.

Mifflin was a lavish spender. Pressure from his creditors forced him to leave Philadelphia in 1799, and he died at Lancaster the next year at age 56. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania paid his burial expenses at the local Trinity Lutheran Church.

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Gouverneur Morris
Pennsylvania

Image: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

I. EARLY LIFE

Of French and English descent, Morris was born at Morrisania estate, in Westchester (presently Bronx) County, NY, in 1752. His family was wealthy and had a long record of public service. His elder half-brother, Lewis, signed the Declaration of Independence.

Gouverneur was educated by private tutors and at a Huguenot school in New Rochelle. In early life, he lost a leg in a carriage accident. He attended King's College (later Columbia College and University) in New York City, graduating in 1768 at the age of 16. Three years later, after reading law in the city, he gained admission to the bar.

Although he came from a family of Loyalists and initially feared that the revolutionary movement would lead to mob rule, Gouverneur sided with the Whigs beginning in 1775. He represented Westchester County in New York's provincial congress (1775-77). In 1776, when he also served in the militia, he drafted the first constitution of the state along with John Jay and Robert R. Livingston. Subsequently he joined the Council of Safety (1777) and sat in the legislature (1777-78).

II. CONTINENTAL CONGRESS & CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

From 1778-79, Morris served in the Continental Congress as one of its youngest and most brilliant members. During this period, he signed the Articles of Confederation and drafted instructions for Benjamin Franklin in Paris, as well as those that provided a partial basis for the treaty ending the War for Independence. Morris was also a close friend of Washington and one of his strongest congressional supporters.

Defeated in his bid for reelection to Congress in 1779 because of opposition from Gov. George Clinton's faction, Morris relocated to Philadelphia and practiced law. In 1781 he resumed his public career when he became the principal assistant to Robert Morris (no relation), Superintendent of Finance for the United States. Gouverneur held this position for four years.

Morris emerged as one of the leading figures at the Constitutional Convention. He gave 173 speeches—more than any other member. A strong advocate of nationalism and aristocratic rule, he served on many committees, including those on postponed matters and style, and stood in the thick of the decision-making process. Above all, he apparently drafted the Constitution.

III. DIPLOMACY & GOVERNMENT OFFICE

In 1790-91 Morris undertook a diplomatic mission to London to try to negotiate some of the outstanding problems between the United States and Great Britain. The mission failed, but in 1792 Washington appointed him as Minister to France, to replace Thomas Jefferson. Morris was recalled two years later but did not come home. Instead, he traveled extensively in Europe for more than four years, during which time he handled his complicated business affairs and contemplated the complex political situation.

Morris returned to the United States in 1799. The next year, he was elected to finish an unexpired term in the U.S. Senate. An ardent Federalist, he was defeated in his bid for reelection in 1802 and left office the following year.

Morris retired to a glittering life at Morrisania, where he had built a new residence. In 1809 he married Anne Cary (Carey) Randolph of Virginia, and they had one son. During his last years, he continued to speak out against the Democratic-Republicans and violently opposed the War of 1812. In the years 1810-13 he served as chairman of the Erie Canal Commission.

Morris died at Morrisania in 1816 at the age of 64 and was buried at St. Anne's Episcopal Churchyard in the Bronx, New York City.

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Robert Morris
Pennsylvania

Image: Independence National Historical Park

I. EARLY LIFE

Morris was born at or near Liverpool, England, in 1734. At age 13, he immigrated to Maryland to join his father, a tobacco exporter. After brief schooling in Philadelphia, Morris obtained employment with Thomas and Charles Willing's well-known shipping-banking firm. In 1754 he became a partner and for almost four decades was one of the company's directors as well as an influential Philadelphia citizen. After wedding Mary White at the age of 35, he fathered five sons and two daughters.

I. EARLY LIFE & REVOLUTIONARY WAR

During the Stamp Act turmoil in 1765, Morris joined other merchants in protest, but not until the outbreak of hostilities a decade later did he fully commit himself to the Revolution. In 1775 the Continental Congress contracted with his firm to import arms and ammunition, and he was elected to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety (1775-76), the Committee of Correspondence, the provincial assembly (1775-76), the legislature (1776-78), and the Continental Congress (1775-78).

In the Continental Congress, on July 1, 1776, Morris voted against independence, which he personally considered premature. However, the next day he absented himself to facilitate an affirmative ballot by his delegation.

Morris, a key congressman, specialized in financial affairs and military procurement. He and his firm profited handsomely. However, had it not been for his assiduous labors the Continental Army would probably have been forced to demobilize. He worked closely with General Washington, wheedled money and supplies from the states, borrowed money in the face of overwhelming difficulties, and on occasion even obtained personal loans to further the war cause.

III. GOVERNMENT OFFICES

Immediately following his congressional service, Morris sat for two more terms in the Pennsylvania legislature (1778-81). During this time, Thomas Paine and others attacked him for profiteering in Congress, which investigated his accounts and vindicated him. Nevertheless, his reputation suffered.

Morris embarked on the most dramatic phase of his career by accepting the office of Superintendent of Finance (1781-84) under the Articles of Confederation. Congress, recognizing the perilous state of the nation's finances and its own impotence to provide remedies, granted him dictatorial powers and acquiesced to his condition that he be allowed to continue his private commercial enterprises. He slashed all governmental and military expenditures, personally purchased army and navy supplies, tightened accounting procedures, prodded the states to fulfill quotas of money and supplies, and when necessary strained his personal credit by issuing notes over his own signature or by borrowing from friends.

To finance Washington's Yorktown campaign in 1781, Morris obtained a sizable loan from France. He used part of it, along with some of his own fortune, to organize the Bank of North America, chartered that December. The first government-incorporated bank in the United States, it aided war financing.

Although Morris was reelected to the Pennsylvania legislature for 1785-86, his private ventures consumed most of his time. In the latter year, he attended the Annapolis Convention.

IV. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

In 1787, Morris attended the Constitutional Convention, where he sympathized with the Federalists but was, for a man of his eminence, strangely silent. Although in attendance at practically every meeting, he spoke only twice in debates and did not serve on any committees. In 1789, declining Washington's offer of appointment as the first Secretary of the Treasury, he instead took a seat in the U.S. Senate (1789-95).

V. LATER YEARS

During the later years of his public life, Morris speculated wildly, often on overextended credit, in lands in the West and at the site of Washington, DC. To compound his difficulties, in 1794 he began constructing on Philadelphia's Chestnut Street a mansion designed by Maj. Pierre Charles L'Enfant. Not long thereafter, Morris attempted to escape creditors by retreating to The Hills, the country estate along the Schuylkill River that he had acquired in 1770.

Arrested at the behest of creditors in 1798 and unable to complete the mansion (thereafter known in its unfinished state as "Morris' Folly"), Morris was thrown into the Philadelphia debtor's prison. By the time he was released in 1801 under a federal bankruptcy law, his property and fortune had vanished, his health had deteriorated, and his spirit had been broken. He lingered on in poverty and obscurity, living in a simple Philadelphia home on an annuity obtained for his wife by fellow-signer Gouverneur Morris.

Robert Morris died in 1806 and was buried in the yard of Christ Church.

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image of james wilson

James Wilson
Pennsylvania

Image: National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution

I. EARLY LIFE

Wilson was born in 1741 or 1742 near St. Andrews, Scotland, and was educated at the universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. He then came to America, arriving in the midst of the agitation over the Stamp Act in 1765. Early the next year, he accepted a position as Latin tutor at the College of Philadelphia (later part of the University of Pennsylvania) but almost immediately abandoned it to study law under John Dickinson.

In 1768, the year after his admission to the Philadelphia bar, Wilson set up practice at Reading, PA. Two years later, he moved westward to the Scotch-Irish settlement of Carlisle, and the following year he took a bride, Rachel Bird. He specialized in land law and built up a broad clientele. On borrowed capital, he also began to speculate in land. In some way he managed, too, to lecture on English literature at the College of Philadelphia, which had awarded him an honorary Master of Arts degree in 1766.

Wilson became involved in Revolutionary politics. In 1774 he took over the chairmanship of the Carlisle Committee of Correspondence, attended the first provincial assembly, and completed Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament. This tract circulated widely in England and America and established Wilson as a Whig leader.

II. CONTINENTAL CONGRESS

In 1775, Wilson was elected to both the provincial assembly and the Continental Congress, where he sat mainly on military and Indian affairs committees. In 1776, reflecting the wishes of his constituents, he joined the moderates in Congress by voting for a three-week delay in considering Richard Henry Lee's resolution of June 7 for independence. On the July 1 and 2 ballots on the issue, however, he voted in the affirmative and signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2.

Wilson's strenuous opposition to the republican Pennsylvania constitution of 1776, besides indicating a switch to conservatism on his part, led to his removal from Congress the following year. To avoid the clamor among his frontier constituents, he repaired to Annapolis during the winter of 1777-78 and then took up residence in Philadelphia. In 1782, by which time the conservatives had regained some of their power, Wilson was reelected to Congress, and he also served in the period 1785-87.

III. WILSON THE CONSERVATIVE

After his removal from Congress in 1777, Wilson affirmed his newly assumed political stance by closely identifying with the aristocratic and conservative republican groups, multiplying his business interests, and accelerating his land speculation. He also took a position as Advocate General for France in America (1779-83), dealing with commercial and maritime matters, and legally defended Loyalists and their sympathizers.

In the fall of 1779, during a period of inflation and food shortages, a mob that included many militiamen and was led by radical constitutionalists, set out to attack the republican leadership. Wilson was a prime target. He and some 35 of his colleagues barricaded themselves in his home at Third and Walnut Streets, thereafter known as "Fort Wilson." During a brief skirmish, several people on both sides were killed or wounded. The shock cooled sentiments and pardons were issued all around, though major political battles over the commonwealth constitution still lay ahead.

During 1781 Congress appointed Wilson as one of the directors of the Bank of North America, newly founded by his close associate and legal client Robert Morris.

IV. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

Wilson reached the apex of his career in the Constitutional Convention (1787), where his influence was probably second only to that of Madison. Rarely missing a session, he sat on the Committee of Detail and in many other ways applied his excellent knowledge of political theory to convention problems. Only Gouverneur Morris delivered more speeches.

That same year, overcoming powerful opposition, Wilson led the drive for ratification in Pennsylvania, the second state to endorse the instrument. The new commonwealth constitution, drafted in 1789-90 along the lines of the U.S. Constitution, was primarily Wilson's work and represented the climax of his 14-year fight against the constitution of 1776.

V. GOVERNMENT OFFICES & LAW TEACHING

In 1789 President Washington named Wilson as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Wilson, who wrote only a few opinions, did not achieve the success on the Supreme Court that his capabilities and experience promised. Indeed, during those years he drew a great deal of criticism and barely escaped impeachment. For one thing, he tried to influence the enactment in Pennsylvania of legislation favorable to land speculators.

Wilson was chosen as the first law professor at the College of Philadelphia. In 1791, he began an official digest of the laws of Pennsylvania, a project he never completed.

VI. LATER YEARS

Between 1792 and 1795, Wilson made huge but unwise land investments in western New York and Pennsylvania, as well as in Georgia. This did not stop him from conceiving a grandiose but ill-fated scheme, involving vast sums of European capital, for the recruitment of European colonists and their settlement in the West. Meantime, in 1793, as a widower with six children, he married Hannah Gray; their one son died in infancy.

Four years later, to avoid arrest for debt, the distraught Wilson moved from Philadelphia to Burlington, NJ. The next year, apparently while on federal circuit court business, he arrived at Edenton, NC, in a state of acute mental stress. He was taken into the home of James Iredell, a fellow Supreme Court justice. He died there within a few months. Although first buried at Hayes Plantation near Edenton, Wilson's remains were later reinterred in the yard of Christ Church at Philadelphia.

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